Jazz Oracle's second volume of Paramount Hot Dance Obscurities transports the listener back to the years 1928-1932, when deep within "recording laboratories" in Chicago, IL and Grafton, WI, about 15 different regional dance bands were hard at work making 78 rpm phonograph records soon to be released to the public on the Broadway, Challenge, and Paramount labels. For sheer variety, this is one of the most richly stocked compilations in the entire Jazz Oracle catalog. The Wisconsin U Skyrockets' song titles are enough to reel in the curious, for who could resist "Slow Beef," "Dizzy Corners," or "The Postage Stomp"? Note also versions of Duke Ellington's "Black and Tan Fantasy," Fats Waller's "Keeping Out of Mischief Now," George Gershwin's "Lady Be Good," and possibly Irving Berlin's shortest song title, "Me." In addition to the Skyrockets, the lineup consists of the Checker Box Boys; reedman Art Krueger & His Columbians; Isa Foster & Her Ambassadors; vocalist Glen Leitzke (or Lietzke)'s Midnight Serenaders; Bud Spaight's Harmony Kings; trumpeter and violinist Billy Stennett & His Carolina Stompers; the Smyth-West Orchestra, and the orchestras of Joe Gumin, Glen Lyte, Aaron Steel, saxophonist/clarinetist Bill Garsen, Doc Wilson, Bob Hartman, and saxophonist/clarinetist Sig Heller. The chances are slim that anyone will recognize any of the instrumentalists in these bands (more than half of them remain unidentified) and the vocalists are equally obscure. The word "obscure" should not be taken in the pejorative sense; all it means here is that none of these people achieved durable fame back then or since. This collection is a delicious dipstick of Midwestern dance bands, most or all of them accustomed to playing for a public accustomed to steady tempos, hummable melodies, and the occasional hot instrumental break. Those who truly love that kind of music are sure to appreciate the opportunity to hear this stuff today, documented to the best of the producer's ability and presented with intelligent commentary by early jazz historian Joel O'Sickey. Like virtually everything else that has been released by Jazz Oracle, this is a marvelous stash of precious oddities from long ago.
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